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29 August 11 - 14:40PAX 2011 & our big announcement!!!

So... we just got back from PAX 2011 & I wanted to write a few things out here because Facebook just can't contain all the things swirling in my head and they need to be contained before I return to the daily grind. PAX 2011 was the best PAX ever... (until next year of course). I'm not sure how my experience seems to always top the prior year, but let's keep it up.

PAX began on THURSDAY for us as Johnny (HappyConsoleGamer) hosted a pre-PAX dinner. I don't think the Cheesecake Factory could contain that much awesome, and my stomach definitely couldn't contain enough of their food. Got to finally meet Pete Dorr & Jason Heine after hearing Johnny & John (Gamester81) talk about them so much & hearing them on their (AllGenGamers) podcast. The Retro Hunters & The Game Chasers were there, Metal Jesus, Peanut Butter Gamer, The FarFromSubtle guys stopped by (AwesomeVideoGames), Stuttering Craig & his crew from ScrewAttack came by (check out their new website coming soon), Pat the NES Punk was there, not to mention a number of our close friends from Gamedeals. A bit of Gameworks afterword where we met a few more people including Brian, the creator of Retro City Rampage (that is 2 blocks from our Gastown store). RobMan was blown away, having "the best day ever" and we had to remind him that PAX hadn't even started yet.

FRIDAY started with the keynote from David Jaffe (God of War / Twisted Metal), then the Penny Arcade Q&A (don't ever miss these). We grabbed lunch & wandered the expo hall for a bit. Grabbed some swag & at 4pm headed out front for the Youtube meet-up. Those guys seemed to have a good time meeting up with their fans. The crowd was a bit smaller than I expected it to be, but for the people that showed up it was a chance to meet the gang & get some VERY limited collectibles they were giving away. The Retro Game Roadshow panel was cool, some rare stuff shown off, it's a shame they didn't get to DJ's stuff before time ran out. Dinner then the evening concert. VGO was up first (Video Game Orchestra). They were loved by most of the people there, but not really my thing. I can't remember if we did anything after that, it's starting to blur already, I should type faster.

SATURDAY started with the "Make a Strip" panel with more Q&A (also a don't miss). The rest of the day was Expo Hall, partly to check out all the exhibitors, partly to give out Gamedeals Party wristbands to whomever we missed as we were running out. I started off by picking up a free OnLive console... so 20 years from now when people say "Whatever happened to that stupid OnLive thing?" I can show them my ultra-rare mint-in-box never used console & they can go "wow...". Then something interesting happened. There was a line to meet David Jaffe and I got in it right away. When I got up to meet him (he's a really cool guy by the way), I was telling him the story of at E3 2010, Ray & I were walking through the Sony booth during their press conference and we came across a covered booth of something about to be revealed. They pulled the sheet off and it was Twisted Metal PS3. I said "Is it playable", the Sony rep said "Fuck yeah", I said "where does the line start?" and he looked at me and said "how about right here". We were amongst the first group to play it. While telling this story, David stops me and says "wait... what is that on your shirt?". I say "oh, Gamedeals, I own a couple of stores up in Canada.". He pauses, looks at me and goes "are you the guy throwing the party tonight?" and pulls a blue wristband out of his pocket. The fucking keynote speaker is telling me about my own party. We talked for a bit more (did I mention he's a cool guy), and I got a signed Sweet Tooth mask (going to be displayed at Gastown) and a T-shirt. This lead to getting a free Zelda Re-orchestrated CD a few minutes later & free cotton candy that tasted like Kirby. I was in heaven and the weekend was only half over.

That night was the Gamedeals Party & the big announcement. We prepped the room, cranked the AC & brought in fans, and waited. People showed up early and the party was already crowded by 9:30. It was over-capacity in the room & the heat level was rising. I was incredibly nervous (and already had a couple drinks) and both Jen & Ray were wasted from the Sega party earlier. Anyway, 10:00 came and the announcement was made.

For those of you wondering why I haven't been at the store(s) much this month, this is why. Knee deep in paperwork. Franchise Applications, Agreements, Disclosure Documents, Financial Statements, etc. etc. Now that we have officially announced that we are Franchising, I can talk freely about it, so feel free to ask me any questions you might have, and spread the word. The website updates are temporary, it will look much prettier with more info soon. **UPDATE: Since the closing of Gastown & the speed with which the industry is changing, we are NO LONGER offering franchises. We may return to them once the dust settles on the video game industry, but for now we aren't.

The crowd at the party was very similar to the pre-PAX dinner, but much more cramped & it started to get hot so the party spilled into the hall (when Hotel Security showed up). By 11pm Hotel Security was back & the party was over. I had a feeling that we had outgrown the Sheraton this year, expect something bigger at a different location next year. The after-party kind of fizzled into a bunch of smaller gatherings and after hitting up a few of them (because there was no way my night was over), a small group of us ended up at a Pub across town with James Rolfe (Angry Video Game Nerd) & his friends (I want to say Angry Joe, James's friend Brian & a few others I don't remember). James seems like a cool guy, very different than what I expected, but they were all pretty drunk by that point. I look forward to talking to those guys again as it looks like they might be coming to Canada soon (we might do a meet-up/signing/something at Gamedeals). No sleep.

SUNDAY was pretty relaxed. Cleaning the parlour room, packing, etc. Went to the Pitch Your Game Idea panel, and while this panel in previous years was VERY funny, this year was just meh. I (alone) attended the Industry Insider panel (Industry numbers & statistics). Very good information and it was the first time that PAX had more of an E3 feel for me. No kids, no creepy fanboys, just industry people assimilating information. Shortly after we checked out and headed home. Today I'm headed into the store to hand out swag souvenirs to the guys that kept Gamedeals running while we were gone, and to decompress. PAX is one of the most intense weekends of the year. We should do this more often.

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